A pipe burst at my neighbor’s house. A friend is coming to town at the last minute. A colleague has arrived home after a week on the road. There are dozens of reasons to make a big pot of soup to share, especially when it’s quick to the table and satisfying to boot.
This cauliflower soup takes inspiration from Welsh rarebit, a classic pub dish of piping hot cheese sauce spiked with beer spooned over thick toast. In this iteration, it’s the cauliflower that gets the rarebit treatment, resulting in a soup that is cheesy and slightly bitter from the beer. Mustard and Worcestershire sauce add depth, and sharp cheddar cheese delivers a tangy zing.
Chop the cauliflower into bite-size pieces. Not too small or it will cook too quickly and turn mushy. Work to make most of the pieces equal in size.
This soup is best when made at the last minute (it only takes about 25 minutes). If reheating, do so slowly and gently, and never in the microwave.
Cheesy Cauliflower Soup
8 servings (makes 3 quarts)
2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
2 cups (10 ounces) diced onion, 1 large
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
4 cups (16 ounces) cauliflower florets, 1 medium
2 cups (16 ounces) low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk, warmed
½ cup dark beer, such as Guinness
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dry mustard
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups (8 ounces) grated sharp cheddar cheese
In a 5-quart stock pot over medium heat, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the onion and ½ teaspoon salt, stir and cook until the onion turns slightly golden, about 10 minutes. Add the cauliflower, stir everything together to coat with the oil, cook for an additional 3 to 4 minutes, add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low so the liquid is just simmering. Cover the pot and cook until the cauliflower is fork-tender, 7 to 10 minutes.
While the cauliflower cooks, in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter until foaming. Sprinkle the flour over the melted butter and whisk until smooth, forming a roux. Reduce the heat and continue to whisk until the roux turns golden brown, about 7 minutes. Add the warmed milk in a stream, whisking until thick and smooth. Add the beer, whisking until smooth, and bring to a simmer, warming just until the bubbles have dispersed, 2 to 3 minutes.
Using a rubber spatula, scrape the beer sauce into the soup and stir until smooth. Add the remaining ½ teaspoon salt, the thyme, Worcestershire, mustard, black pepper and cheese. Stir and heat until a silky cheese soup surrounds the cauliflower, 3 to 4 minutes. Serve hot.
Nutrition per serving: 280 calories, 12 g protein, 16 g carbohydrates, 19 g fat, 11 g saturated fat, 40 mg cholesterol, 410 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber, 7 g sugar